My Beef with Harrison Ford: Why Stories Matter

October 28, 2015

Son of a Duke: Book 1 of the Spy SeriesTwo things to set up this blog:

  1. Unless you’re living under a rock or have decided to go off the grid, you are aware there is a new Star Wars movie coming out in December.
  2. If you’ve read this blog at all or seen the dedication to my first book, you know I’m a huge fan of Harrison Ford, particularly when he played Indiana Jones.

Let’s get started on why I’m currently very upset with Mr. Ford.

When I was little, I wanted to be one thing and only one thing when I grew up: Indiana Jones.

This was not unusual in my day when Indy was still new and awesome and every kid wanted to be him.  As I grew up, I discovered other stories, other heroes, but I continued to return to Dr. Jones.  There was something about the way the Indiana Jones stories unrolled that pulled at the storyteller in me.

I wouldn’t understand until years later, years filled with studying the writing craft, taking classes, reading texts, and writing, writing, writing, that the reason I continued to return to Dr. Jones was the incredible storytelling of the series.

It wasn’t the action and adventure.  It wasn’t Harrison Ford the heart throb.  It was because the Indiana Jones stories were just brilliant writing.  The stories represent everything a good writer should try to encapsulate in a piece.

So why am I upset with Harrison Ford?

The Indiana Jones stories were the first stories I unwittingly absorbed as examples of good writing, but when I absorbed them, to me, they were just awesome stories.  Stories is at the heart of all good writing.  When writing, you need to remember to think like a reader.  To a reader, there are no parts, there are no elements, there is no science to writing.  A reader doesn’t approach a story and say, “Oh, well done with the first hook which easily lead me to the turning point at the 25% mark so I could pick up the beat in the second act.”  No reader would ever say that.  A writer would but not a reader.

Stories are inherently pure, unchanging beings that readers carry around in our pockets, take out and absorb over and over again whenever we need a little bit of magic in an otherwise ordinary world.  As a kid, the Indiana Jones stories took on mammoth portions of magic and splendor.

Then Harrison Ford got old.

In my little kid brain that first saw Indiana Jones, brown fedora in place, whip at his side, the magic and splendor of stories rested on the shoulders of a very human man.  Now when I see all the ubiquitous ads for the new Star Wars movies, all I can fixate on is Harrison Ford’s gray hair, and I wonder where my hero went.  The man at the very heart of my first encounter with the magic of stories.

Stories aren’t supposed to change.  Stories aren’t supposed to loose their magic.  Stories are to remain forever steadfast in their extraordinary state of unreality.

As a reader, I needed to force myself to separate the man from the story.  The human from the only thing we have that defies the odds of reality.  Instead of seeing Indiana Jones, I forced myself to see Harrison Ford, the human who dared to bring a story to life, to wrestle with the sometimes impossible elements of storytelling.

It’s sometimes hard to do when the impact of a story is great on a time in a person’s life when heroes are all still magical and awesome, but it must be done.  And a great storyteller must be recognized for his contribution to the craft.

Well done, Mr. Ford.  This storyteller thanks you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *